The Best French Riviera Beaches

french riviera beaches horizon



French Riviera beaches from Menton to St Tropez all hug the Mediterranean Sea.

Some beaches are glitzy and made for jet-setters, while others are quiet enough to chill out for the day.

That’s my kind of beach 🙂 But no matter what I like! Everyone will find the perfect beach for their French Riviera vacation.




FRENCH RIVIERA BEACHES IN MENTON

view menton colored houses beaches




30 km from Nice, Menton is the last city before the Italian border.

The winding streets in the old town are worth visiting, as are the shops and restaurants along the way.

Parallel to the city is a very long stretch of beach aptly named Promenade du Soleil, similar to the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

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view of sand and ocean menton beaches

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This french riviera beach is 2 km long.

Choose between a public beach if you want peace or a private beach for the comfort of a sunbed and cold drinks at your fingertips.

The pebbly beaches closer to the old port have shallow and calm waters, suitable for kids and those who don’t want to battle with waves.

But don’t expect to be alone!



FRENCH RIVIERA BEACH IN CAP D’AIL. LA MALA.

feet in sand blue toes beaches



Just before Monaco in the very small town of Cap D’ail, explore the small french riviera beach of La Mala.

It’s a tiny beach, half of which is public, and the other half is private with a couple of upscale restaurants on the water’s edge.

This used to be one of my favorite beaches.

Despite rows of sunbeds crowding the small area, it’s still postcard-perfect with warm waters and a fantastic view.

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french riviera beaches la mala




To access this french riviera beach, you must be fit. Follow the 15-minute walking path, then descend the stone stairs that lead to La Mala.

Don’t forget that you have to go up again on the way back!

Check out the beautiful homes, flowers, and plants on the winding road leading to the steps.

Park in the small lot in Cap D’Ail’s town’s center. You could also come here by boat…if you have one 🙂

Bring a picnic or splurge in one of the onsite restaurants.

Have a swim, snorkel, relax, and just e.n.j.o.y.

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VILLEFRANCHE SUR MER – PLAGE DE LA MARINIERE 

view of villefranche beaches village




Villefranche Sur Mer is a small colorful village about 10 km from Nice.

The town itself is full of charm and worth visiting even if you don’t go to the beach.

This long french riviera beach has a mix of small gravel with a few sandy patches. It’s more comfortable than the rocky beaches of Nice, and the water is usually very clear and calm.

In certain places, it’s completely see-through!

Bring water shoes as some areas in the water are lined with rocks.

Overall it is an excellent place for everyone, including families with kids.

Bring a parasol and come early. Otherwise, you’ll have to walk further down the beach to get a spot.. the further you go, the narrower it gets.

If you walk to the end and cross the parking lot, another beach is semi-circular, smaller, and cozy but also an option.

However, like most beaches on the french riviera, it gets crowded if you arrive too late.

Note: Cruise ships stop here on certain days a few times a month, so check if you’re going into town, or you’ll have larger crowds than usual!


villefranche cruise sea boat french riviera beaches



PARKING:

The train from Nice is a quick ride and drops you off practically at the beach. Just go down the flight of stairs, and you’re a few minutes away.

There are three parking lots in Villefranche.

One close to the Citadelle, but it’s far from the beach (unless you like walking).

The second at the entrance of the village is good for going around town and local restaurants. And the 3rd lot at the far end right on the beach. (Take a ticket from your car and pay when ready to leave)

Just note that the beach lot is not the easiest to maneuver because of the narrow 2-way lane. Be patient.

A few small cafes serve good sandwiches and Nicoise salad with a fantastic view of the colored village!





FRENCH RIVIERA BEACH IN ANTIBES 

view of fort antibes sea beaches



Antibes is a charming town that also encompasses Juan Les Pins, with its own strip of sandy beach.

There are two main french riviera beaches in Antibes: Plage de la Gravette and La Salis.

But I won’t talk about the second one as it’s my least favorite!


Plage de la Gravette

This is my favorite sandy beach on the french riviera.

Shaped in a semi-circle, it has a cozy feel and shallow waters for kids to play safely. For swimmers, go a bit further out.

The splendid view of the bay is what keeps me coming back!

This beach borders the Old Town close to the Picasso museum.  The small food truck is perfect for snacks or a sandwich.

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view antibes beaches french riviera




If you’re staying in the old town, it’s an easy walk to this french riviera beach located in front of the old fishing port.

Otherwise, you can park in the large underground lot 5 minutes away.

But like most beaches in the summer on the french riviera, don’t come too late or you may not find your ideal spot!

 

FRENCH RIVIERA BEACHES IN NICE 

rocks on beaches french riviera
Galets on Nice french riviera beaches

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Coco Beach – The small beach of Coco Beach hides within a rocky landscape.

You have to go down a small flight of stairs to enjoy an intimate moment in the sun. In the summer, it does get crowded, considering it is pretty small.

Swim off the rocks or bring goggles and explore sea life in clear waters!

Off-season, it’s a great place just to chill out, have a picnic, and enjoy the afternoon with a good book while the waves crash against the rocks.



beaches waves on rock french riviera
Coco Beach, Nice. Photo credit: VisitNiceToday


La Reserve is only a few minutes away. You must be comfortable with rocks as there are plenty! Just lay your towel on any inspiring spot!

Both beaches are located on the other side of the port, on Boulevard Franck Pilate, to the east.

Walk to the small Corsica Boat Landing and continue a couple of hundred meters. You’ll see the stairs going down leading to Coco Beach, and you can admire the lighthouse far off in the distance.

Between both beaches, Le Plongeoir will catch your attention. This restaurant seems suspended over the water. The food is ok if you want to splurge!

But the real deal is the fantastic view 🙂

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FRENCH RIVIERA BEACHES ALONG THE PROMENADE 

high sea view cote d'azur beaches

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The majority of the beaches along the Promenade des Anglais are “galets” beaches and not sandy.  Galets are small gray rocks of all shapes and designs.

This can be quite uncomfortable, so I suggest that if you go to these beaches, buy a cheap foam mattress available anywhere beach stuff is sold as well as water shoes.

A parasol is also a good idea as it can get scorching hot.

But if you’re there for only a couple of hours, bring a large brim hat instead. Then, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle trying to secure the parasol in the “galets.”

Another option is to go to a private beach and rent a sunbed. Prices are for a half-day or full day, and you can have a great lunch while you’re there.

Be prepared to splurge.

rows of beaches umbrella french riviera beach nice




Beware that there may be somewhat of a steep slope before getting in the water!

You can choose between 15 private beaches or many public beaches for about 8 kilometers from the old town on one end towards the airport direction or vice versa.

Here are just a few.

Castel Beach: Located in front of the Old town, the private part of this french riviera b3ach has its restaurant where you can enjoy the view.

Its name comes from it being at the foot of Castle Hill (Colline du Chateau).

Love it or hate it, be aware that it can get hectic during the summer months.

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busy beaches castel nice


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Opera Plage
: One of the oldest beaches in Nice, it faces the backside of the Opera House.

Laidback but also crowded during summer. The private part of this beach is one of the least expensive on the Promenade.

Blue Beach: Located in front of the famous Negresco Hotel. This private beach is family-friendly.

The promenade has many private beaches. Some with children’s play areas, others with a restaurant, or other beaches offer comfy seating areas and music.

These french riviera beaches offer positive vibes for all, including families.



FRENCH RIVIERA BEACHES IN SAINT TROPEZ 

saint tropez beaches sand sea




French Riviera beaches, of course, also include those in St. Tropez.

There are a series of private and public beaches in St Tropez.

Some are more secluded than others, where you can enjoy a lazy afternoon in the Mediterranean sun.

  • Plage des Graniers: Located behind the Citadelle, this small sandy (but not fine white) beach has clear waters.
    Not the most beautiful beach but close to town if you don’t have a car. Sunbeds for rent and a beach club restaurant.
  • You can also just bring a towel and a picnic.


    There is a path leading down to the beach and you can start here if you want to follow the Sentiers du Littoral. .

green path to gravier beaches
  • La plage des Canebiers: From the Citadelle, you can reach this beach via La Route de Salins in 5 minutes or 30-minute walk.Enjoy this long but small sandy beach made famous due to a French TV series “Sous le Soleil”.
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    Use the sailing school nearby as a reference point.Shallow waters attract families and the pine trees protect you from winds.The view of the bay is beautiful! Be sure to take a boat tour to discover the area and upscale homes.   There is parking nearby.



Ramatuelle Beaches close to St. Tropez

Ramatuelle is a charming small town about 10 km from the center of St. Tropez that has beautiful beaches.

Try to go outside the high season as they do get crowded and get a completely different feel!

Plage de L’escalet: Nature at its best, relaxing sandy beach surrounded by rocks where you can sit or lay your towel.

Turquoise waters, fish in the sea, and nothing else around.

Not easy to get to, but beautiful.

Snorkel, relax and be sure to buy fresh drinks from a guy who comes every once in a while with his drink cart 🙂


beaches ramatuelle l'escalet



By car from Ramatuelle, follow signs to L’escalet towards St. Tropez.

There is a small parking lot but arrive early otherwise…

Then walk about 100m on a rocky path for access to the beach. One side is a nudist beach..but it’s quite separate.

After the beach, if you’re feeling full of energy, take a long walk on the Sentiers des Douaniers to explore the area and other beaches along the way.

Pampelonne Beach: A very, very long stretch of sandy beach and clear waters with chic yachts on the horizon.

The perfect image of a french riviera beach.

Parts are public other parts are private. But it’s long enough so that anyone can find their perfect spot.

If possible, avoid July and August as there are just too many people on top of each other!

pampelonne beaches french riviera




It’s not the quietest beach and is highly touristy, glitzy with lots of high-priced restaurants and beach clubs.

But this beach belongs to the legend of Brigitte Bardot, so worth a visit – if you like Brigitte Bardot 🙂

It is located between St Tropez and Ramatuelle. You’ll need a car to get there. There is parking on site.



blue sea pampelonne st tropez beaches


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Port Grimaud 
Just 9 km from Saint Tropez, Port Grimaud is a charming seaside port with colorful houses along the canal and a pedestrian village.

Take a ride around on a boat to explore.


view of canal port grimaud french riviera beaches


The small area, so you’ll need to park the car on the outskirts as it is pedestrian-only.

Or, if you’re feeling full of energy, just ride a bike.

This sandy beach lined with palm trees is large enough for everyone, and it’s also where locals go.

The waters are crystal clear waters, and you can admire the view of St Tropez harbor.

Rent a sunbed or just find a quiet spot. There are restaurants on-site, showers, and all creature comforts.

Port Grimaud is so tiny. You won’t have any trouble finding the beach!

But again, at the risk of repeating myself, during July and August, it gets crowded, get there early 🙂

Among all the french riviera beaches, I’m sure you’ll find the perfect one for your day out!


girl on rocky beaches



Go. Early. Enjoy Together.

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